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First Name: James

Last Name: Fife

Birthplace: NV, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Date of Birth: 22 January 1897

Date of Death: 01 November 1975

Rank or Rate:

Years Served: 1918-1955
James Fife, Jr.

•  World War I (1914 - 1918)
•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


James Fife, Jr.

Admiral, U.S. Navy

James Fife, Jr. was born on 22 January 1897 in Nevada.

Fife graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1918 and served in both World War I and World War II in submarines and surface combatants. He served aboard USS S-3 (SS-107) and USS R-22 (SS-99), and was Commanding Officer of USS N-7 (SS-59), USS R-19 (SS-96) and USS R-18 (SS-95). He served on the battleship USS Idaho (BB-24) and the destroyers USS Leary (DD-158) and USS Hatfield (DD-231) from 1923 until May 1935.

During World War II, Fife commanded Submarine Squadron 20 (under Admiral Thomas C. Hart) and after it was dissolved later into Submarines, Asiatic Fleet, he served as Chief of Staff to the Commander until May 1942. He served with General Douglas MacArthur as the representative of Admiral Arthur S. Carpender during the Burma campaign.

Admiral Fife was awarded the Navy Distinguished Service Medal for meritorious service as the Chief of Staff to Commander Submarines, Asiatic Fleet, the Air Medal (by the Army), and a Gold Star in lieu of a second Distinguished Service Medal for action in the Pacific area. During the last months of the war he served as Commander Submarines, Southwest Pacific; Commander, U. S. Naval Forces, Western Australia; and Commander Task Force 71. As a result, he was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of a Distinguished Service Medal.

From April 1947 until 1950, he commanded the Submarine Force, Atlantic Fleet. This assignment was followed by duty as Assistant Chief, and Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Operations). His final assignment before retirement was as U. S. Naval Commander in Chief, Mediterranean, under Admiral Mountbatten, Royal Navy.

Upon his retirement in August 1955, he was advanced in rank to four-star Admiral. *

* The Act of Congress of 4 March 1925, allowed Navy officers to be promoted one grade upon retirement if they had been specially commended for performance of duty in actual combat. These promotions were colloquially known as "tombstone promotions" because they conferred the prestige of the higher rank but not the additional retirement pay, so their only practical benefit was to allow recipients to engrave a loftier title on their business cards and tombstones. An Act of Congress on 23 February 1942, enabled tombstone promotions to three- and four-star grades.

In Retirement

After retirement, he served as the Director of Mystic Seaport. Fife bequeathed his estate in New London, CT, to the U.S. Navy, which turned it into a recreational site.


Fife Hall, a navigation training facility at Naval Submarine Base New London is named in his honor.

Death and Burial

He died on 1 November 1975 in Stonington, CT. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA.

Honoree ID: 514   Created by: MHOH




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